Developing Arguments: Independent Study Week 2

Question and Answer

In which historical period, according to Barthes did we see the emergence of the concept of the author?

At the end of the middle ages, during the Reformation period.

Describe Barthes’  persepctive on the notion of litererary criticism and the critic.

For Barthes, literary criticism is the act of “discovering” the author of a piece of work or to find out his history, society or psyche in order to explain his work as trying to do so without trying to understand the author is meaningless. To Barthes after a critic has “discovered” an author in this way the work he set to undertake is complete. However as the concept of authorship dies in writing with the lack of a “secret” the concept of a literary critic becomes obsolete.

Who ultimately constructs meaning in a text?

Ultimately, meaning is constructed by the audience as individuals for a text. For example the game Bioshock could be construed by some players as a critique on the indivialism prevalent in society as the narrative deals with an underwater community brought down by genetic enhancements that bring super-hero like powers. For other players, the meaning comes from the moral dilema it poses to the player, of whether to sacrafice young girls for their own gain. For others the meaning of the game is the pure hedonistic entertainment it brings that comes from the engaging gameplay.


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